E-Marketing raises many ethical and legal issues, questions and responsibilities. Among them are:
Spam - the amount of spam (unsolicited commercial) email sent and received is estimated at more than 120 billion messages a day. Spam is a financially attractive way to advertise because millions of emails can be sent for just a few cents. It only takes a few recipients to respond to make the exercise profitable. In Australia the Spam Act applies to email, instant messaging, SMS and MMS.
Intellectual property theft has long been a crime in most western countries. It has also been one of the more difficult areas of the law to enforce, but modern information and communication technologies have greatly increased the problem.
Of broader relevance to business is the potential theft of intellectual property assets such as trade marks and the illegal sharing of mp3 music files and DVDs. Online, it is quite simple to copy logos, designs and other corporate branding materials and essentially recreate an online facsimile of a real business. A practice that was common in the earlier days of the internet was for someone to buy a domain name that closely relates to an existing business and then force the business to pay huge sums of money to buy the domain name. A number of celebrities have also been forced to litigate or pay to buy their own names online.
Consumer protection - Despite some relatively clear ethical guidelines for businesses and, increasingly, laws aimed at regulating online behaviour, consumers are well served by taking their own steps to manage their online experience. The simplest yet most effective methods consumers can take to protect themselves online include:
use a secondary email address (such as Gmail) when registering for online services
install and keep up to date anti-virus software
install a firewall
use email filters to automatically delete spam (junk emails)
never respond to unsolicited email messages
never give personal details, particularly banking information, to strangers online
use information and communication technologies appropriately and moderately.
Legal enforcement - There can be significant legal consequences for organisations and individuals that breach laws related to their conduct online. Jurisdiction: Which location to enforce the law? Should it be the country where the vendor is based or should it be the country where the customer is based? The borderless, international nature of the online world makes it complicated to determine which laws apply and who can or should enforce them. The matter of jurisdiction has also led to some complex international business arrangements in the online gambling industry as well as some inconsistencies of approach. For example, Australia’s Interactive Gambling Act 2001 makes it illegal to provide an interactive gambling service to someone in Australia, but it is not illegal for someone in Australia to gamble online.
Mastercard, AmEx Quietly Feed Data to Advertisers: Privacy Concerns Prevent Some Targeting Options
By:Kate Kaye Published: April 16, 2013
Credit-card firms are selling their credit-card transaction data for digital advertising and other marketing efforts, but they re not exactly broadcasting the fact for fear of consumer backlash. Mastercard Advisors launched its Information Services division around two-and-a-half years ago and in recent months has been approaching media-agency trading desks with an enticing offer: data representing 80 billion consumer purchases.
American Express has also turned its transaction data into a revenue stream through its Business Insights consulting division which has aimed direct mail and online offers to card holders on behalf of advertisers for years, though on an aggregate level. More recently, AmEx has modeled audience segments for use in online ad targeting. The company declined to name any partners in the endeavor, but stressed the AmEx data models don t allow for direct targeting of its card holders.
Mastercard recently aligned with Maxpoint, a digital-ad firm that combines lots of publicly available information, such as data from Secretaries of State and health data from the Centers for Disease Control, to define audiences within specific ZIP code regions. The Mastercard information is "the first credit-card data set that we ve incorporated into our system," said Maxpoint CEO Joe Epperson. Maxpoint sells display, mobile and video ads featuring targeted coupons or store promotions on behalf of CPG brands and other types of advertisers such as restaurants. The Mastercard data shows how high or low people index within a specific ZIP code for certain types of purchases. Using the Mastercard data, a burger or pizza chain might use the system to push promotions to neighborhoods in which people spend more than the average at fast-food joints. The firms have worked together for around six months to get the system in place.
Mastercard also makes its data available through Exelate, a data-management platform that feeds information from Mastercard and other partners including Acxiom and Nielsen into digital-ad exchanges for targeting. The credit-card firm compiles audience segments based on its cardholders transactions, pegging people as likely to shop at a sporting goods store or specialty retailer, for example. Exelate uses another company to transfer the Mastercard segments online to target large, modeled audiences geographically according to ZIP+4 codes, rather than targeting individuals based on their personal transactions.
Mastercard stresses the transaction data is anonymized and provided in aggregate. "It s really more of a broad database," said Susan Grossman, group head of media solutions for MasterCard Advisors Information Services.
Privacy QualmsAdvertisers can target ads to large pools of Mastercard customers categorized into segments such as "Top Tier Auto Spenders," or "Frequent Transactors," said a source at a media-agency trading desk using Mastercard data who asked to remain anonymous. The information is "not very granular," said the source, who suggested privacy concerns have prevented Mastercard from offering more detailed data on an individual basis. Still, the source indicated he thought he was targeting actual Mastercard cardholders through online matching and cookie dropping, rather than merely targeting geographic-level segments. While he said the Mastercard data performs relatively better than other information available for digital targeting, the source called it "convoluted."
Privacy concerns certainly play a role in how firms like Mastercard make their data available, but those qualms aren t preventing purchase data from seeping online more frequently. Acxiom has partnered with Facebook to test ad targeting on the social site using customer loyalty shopping data. The company also recently unveiled plans to connect the data it stores for its clients including purchase history and loyalty card information to publisher sites.
The information supplied by credit card firms and other data companies like Acxiom is arguably more reliable because it reflects real consumer purchases as opposed to inferences about what people appear to be interested in. The majority of behavioral data used to target digital ads has its share of problems, suggested the trading desk source who said people might be added to audience segments (think in-market shoe buyers) based only on a one-time site visit. In addition, some computers in homes are used by multiple people, muddying behavioral profiles.